Home Education graduate #WhyIChoseEducation: “Quality education is a game-changer for all children, but it is...

#WhyIChoseEducation: “Quality education is a game-changer for all children, but it is an urgent need for children living in poverty,” says Valerie Bridges, CCRESA ’02MSA Regional Superintendent of the Year 2021-2022, ’10EDD | College of Education


This is part of a monthly “Why did I choose education” series in which alumni, students, faculty and staff of NC State College of Education explain why they chose education.

When Valerie Bridges ’02MSA,’ 10EDD was growing up, she witnessed the impact a teacher can have on the lives of students thanks to her mother, Gloria Howard, now a retired educator with over 30 years of experience. .

Bridges says her mother was a champion for both her kids at home and at school, and she always put her students first and dedicated to their learning. This inspired Bridges to eventually pursue a career in education.

“In my many roles in education, from teacher to superintendent, I have always tried to live up to the example she set – students first. When we work to ensure that students experience success and support, our purpose is clear and our passion has purpose, ”she said.

When Bridges obtained a bachelor’s degree in accounting from UNC Wilmington, she began her career as a tax auditor for the North Carolina Department of Revenue before becoming a state auditor for the auditor’s office. ‘State. While working as a state auditor, she began a teacher training program at St. Augustine University in Raleigh.

This training program led her to a position as a high school teacher in Wake County. While there, her deputy principal encouraged her to become a school administrator, leading her to enroll Masters in School Administration program in the NC State College of Education.

From there, Bridges made the leap into school administration as a college vice-principal. Throughout her career in administration, Bridges has served as an elementary school principal, director of middle school education and student support services, assistant and deputy superintendent of programs and education, and superintendent. interim, working between Wake, Guilford, Washington and Edgecombe counties. . As she continued to grow and hold various leadership positions, she obtained a Doctor of Education in Pedagogical Leadership of the College of Education.

For the past four years, she has served as Superintendent of Edgecombe County Public Schools.

“My goal and my goal has always been to have a positive impact in the lives of children. We know that quality education is a game changer for all children, but it is an urgent need for children in poverty, ”she said.

Bridges’ passion and purpose to make a positive impact and provide children with a quality education is one of the reasons she was named the 2021-2022 Regional Superintendent of the Year for Central Carolina Regional Education. Service Alliance (CCRESA).

When Bridges isn’t working, she enjoys reading, traveling, shopping for shoes, watching college basketball and professional football, and “getting pretty good at golf.” Bridges is also extremely passionate about giving everyone the opportunity to reach their full potential. “I think only a fraction of our students and adults really reach their full potential,” she said. “There is a lot of good work to be done in this world, so let’s get started. “

She explains why she chose the NC State College of Education to pursue her graduate studies, what she enjoyed most about being a part of the college, an experience within the college that impacted her career, how the education shaped her and a recent event that inspired her.

Why I chose the NC State College of Education: NC State’s College of Education was suggested by a colleague of mine, Mr. William I. Parker. He was my deputy principal during my tenure as a high school principal. Mr. Parker was a lawyer to me and recognized my skills and leadership abilities early on in my teaching career.

What I liked most about being a part of the College of Education: While there was a lot to appreciate from my experiences in the state of North Carolina, I especially appreciated my teachers as many of them were former school administrators with a proven track record of success. . They were able to share real life experiences and scenarios to help us grow and engage in the collaborative learning process. I wasn’t part of an official cohort, but there was a small group of graduate students taking classes together; therefore, our interactions were similar to that of a cohort. I worked in Wake County Public Schools during my time at NC State for my MSA degree. There were several other graduate students who also worked in Wake County at different levels which provided a great experience and great camaraderie.

An experience within the College of Education that had an impact on my career: Scenarios and class discussions were powerful for masters and doctoral programs. The engagement in class was incredible. Interactivity allows students to be transparent in class while asking questions to each other and to our teacher. There was always a follow-up to our questions, relevant guest speakers, and a clear focus on doing the right job for the students. The Tuesday and Thursday evening classes were an opportunity to learn and teach. We were comfortable sharing our experiences and getting valuable advice and guidance. During my masters and doctoral courses, journaling and self-reflection were really integrated into my personal and professional processes. Journaling served as a therapeutic and healing remedy for a busy day. Journaling is also a great method for capturing and commemorating successes and good times.

How education shaped me: Education and experience have been the cornerstone of my success. I have been fortunate to have held several positions in the field of education. No position was less important than the other. Everything shaped me and helped me to empathize with children, families and communities, both like and unlike me. It is imperative to be able to empathize and advocate for and with others.

My education allowed me to be selected to lead. People often see your CV (applications) before they see you and know your job. I have always valued education and yearned to learn both formally and informally. Education is our best effort to fill in the gaps and eliminate inequalities.

The last thing I experienced that inspired me: A few weeks ago, I was able to listen (virtually) to a class with high school students from Tarboro High School. The class presented a demonstration activity with an industry person and the class teacher. The students were taught how to build a smart watch. The students were very involved in the activity. The students responded and asked questions with courage and confidence. The industry person shared the pay scales as well as the future of STEM. I loved the high engagement and the fast pace of the lesson.